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A Thai Christmas

Martine at the Sala Thai in Chinatown

Martine at the Sala Thai in Chinatown

I had forgotten all about this photo. Although I cook four or five days a week, we didn’t have anything in the refrigerator on Christmas Day, so we had to go out to eat. Now on that Holiest of Holidays, most restaurants of the Euro-American variety are shut tight; so I suggested that we go to Chinatown, where we were sure to find some good restaurants that were open. (It kind of reminds me of that last scene in The Christmas Story, when the whole family goes out to have Peking Duck after the Bumpus’s dogs had demolished their dinner.) Martine and I have always been partial to a little Thai restaurant called the Sala Thai at the corner of Alpine and New High Streets. It is one of the rare Chinatown restaurants that sports an “A” health department inspection rating (see above). Once you step inside, though, it feels as if you were on a side street in Bangkok.

Fortunately, it was open. So while Martine has a chicken pad see ew with broccoli, I had some spicy fish filet with veggies. It was not quite what one thinks about for a holiday dinner, but it was good. Afterwards, we strolled through several souvenir shops and Chinese bakeries in the Chungking Plaza area.

That evening, we also had an interesting dinner experience. The only place we could find open was a Denny’s in Santa Monica. There was a long line—about three quarters of an hour—before we were seated. Apparently, both the waitstaff and the kitchen were short-handed, not having anticipated a high demand for their food on Christmas Day.

I was ready for New Year’s Day. I had cooked a big pot of a vegetarian curry for the week. It was Monica Dutt’s recipe for Gobi Alu aur Matar ki Tarkari, or, as it is also known, Curried Cauliflower, Potatoes, and Green Peas. I had bought some delicious (and spicy) tomato chutney and garlic pickle at India Sweets and Spices in Culver City the Saturday before, and added it to make a delicious entrée. The recipe can be found on page 126 of The Art of Indian Cooking (if you can find a copy of this now rare item).


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